The Filson Historical Society Digital Projects

The Sanders-Bullitt Family Papers


The Sanders-Bullitt Family Papers


Plantation life--Southern States--Kentucky--History


A reworking of the Bullitt family papers to highlight the people enslaved by the Bullitt family on the Oxmoor plantation and the Cottonwood plantation from the late eighteenth century to the early twentieth century. One of these families includes the Sanders family, headed by Eliza Sanders and her husband, Jim Sanders. While not all people enslaved by the Bullitt family were tied by blood to the Sanders family, the digitization and exhibition of these sources aim to recognize all of the people and families enslaved by the Bullitt family and bring academic attention to the complex community they fostered among each other while in bondage. This digital collection only represents a small, selective portion of the Bullitt Family Papers, and you can access the finding aid for the entire collection here:

Throughout this project, which was funded by the Kentucky Genealogical Society, we have sought guidance from a number of resources made by fellow public historians and archivists that we would like to credit. The most influential of these is the Archives for Black Lives in Philadelphia (A4BLiP) association and their Anti-Racist Metadata Resources document, published in 2020. This document was immensely valuable to this project and we hope to continue referencing the work of A4BLiP in future initiatives. You can access this document on their website ( or at the following link:

We have also consulted the "Engaging Descendent Communities in the Interpretation of Slavery" rubric from James Madison's Montpelier, a document made in partnership with National Trust for Historic Preservation’s African-American Cultural Heritage Action Fund. This document was created by and for public historians during the National Summit for Teaching Slavery, held at Montpelier in February 2018. You can learn more about the summit, and download the rubric, here:

Another resource referenced during this project was The Reckoning podcast, produced by Dan Gediman, Loretta Williams, and Nancy Rosenbaum, which featured much of the Filson's materials and nurtured a conversation between descendants of people enslaved at Oxmoor and the ways our society has yet to reckon with the legacy of slavery. You can access the podcast, along with other educational materials on the history of enslavement in Kentucky, at the following link:

Special thanks to Shirley Harmon, now curator at the Oxmoor Farm Historic Site, for cataloguing this massive collection all those years ago. The only reason that this digitization project was possible was because of your work in noting the names of enslaved people while cataloguing, knowing that it would be useful one day. Thank you.

This collection will be added to and revised as further information arises, and as new evidence of the people enslaved by the Bullitt family is found. This project does not and never can include every single person the Bullitt family enslaved, as many enslaved people in Kentucky and beyond have been intentionally erased or ignored from the historical record. Furthermore, the fact that few enslaved people had last names while in bondage can make genealogical research difficult for descendants. Many, but not all, enslaved people adopted the last name of their former enslaver after Emancipation. This collection includes people who were enslaved by the Speed, Bullitt, Stites, Fry, Chenoweth, Christian, Massie, Dixon, Gwathmey, Huie, Garrard, Breckenridge, and Courtenay families, among others. We hope the digitization of and open access to these materials can aid descendants of these families in their search for their ancestors.

If you'd like to provide feedback, or have any questions, comments, or concerns, we'd love to hear from you. You can reach us at


Mss. A B937c, Bullitt Family Papers - Oxmoor Collection, 1683-2003, The Filson Historical Society, Louisville, Kentucky


The Filson Historical Society, Louisville, Kentucky


Johansen, Emma






Mss. A B937c

Collection Items